After: bathroom

Kersten - January 31, 2008

Next to the kitchen, the bathroom got the most in the way of a facelift. It doesn’t look like much, but this one is about twice the size of our last bathroom, which was comically small.

Before:

After:

The toilet, sink and cabinet are all new. Again, that’s the slate tile with sealer/enhancer on the floor. The color is what I would call ice blue, but Benjamin Moore calls it “Whispering Spring.” The mirror is from Lowe’s or Home Depot, the light fixture from Galaxy Lighting in South Salt Lake and was about the only one that we found for not a lot of money but with adjustable wiring for our nutty off-center junction box. It’s still a pretty tight space, so we didn’t have a lot of leeway in terms of the layout (I was standing in the tub to take the picture above).

There’s still a gap to the left of the sink cabinet because the wall wasn’t square (imagine!). That gap may be permanent, because I’m out of ideas for filling it in.

After: living room

Kersten - January 30, 2008

The living room got the usual treatment: floor, paint, trim, etc. As with the rest of the house, the “before” smell was “cat.”

Before:

After:

The paint is Benjamin Moore Aura “Orange Parrot” and took three coats for full coverage. The window covering is the same system we have in the kitchen (where I would recommend it for the narrower width), but I’m not too pleased with it in the living room — the window’s width is too large for the sliding tracks. The hanging panels already look worn and stretched out, which especially bums me out because I an entire night fiddling with those things.

It is so, so apparent that we have way too much furniture for this place. Otherwise, the flooring runs the direction it does because of a bowing, rolling, rollicking subfloor that we didn’t have the heart or the need to correct in the non-tiled rooms.

That is the book case (the other side of the large kitchen cabinet and former walk-through), and this is why it’s not finished yet:

The bookcase isn’t attached to anything as of yet, and we’re hoping to add some finishing pieces that hide the gaps between the case and the wall. I have to work pretty much every Saturday in February, so I’m hoping the remodeling elf known as Tai gets around to this tedious task one of those days.

The other major task left in the living room is the question of the fireplace facade.

One of our friends said she didn’t mention it during a recent visit because she wasn’t sure if it was a new type of art installation. Yes, we call it “Stumped/Stalled/Lazy.” We currently are using our TV cart to hide the artwork.

After: kitchen

Kersten - January 29, 2008

The kitchen changed the most, and required the most work. (Demolition pictures here, subfloor here and here, tile here, and cabinets here.)

Before:

The kitchen was divided in half by the peninsula in the photo above. The oak cabinets were nothing exciting, and the appliances were serviceable but ugly.

The parquet flooring was a mess. It bowed, waved, rolled and curled because it was rotten underneath.

After:

You’ve heard quite a bit about our grief with the floor. We used the same slate tile for the kitchen that we used in the entryway (and bathroom), and finished it with the enhancer that considerably darkened the color.

Cabinets are Ikea, naturally. Cabinet handles, backsplash system and shelves also are Ikea.

We replaced both lights, adding a track in the work area and a basic Ikea fixture closer to our dining table.

We closed off the walk-through from the living room to the kitchen in the name of claiming a bit of useable space. We added a massive cabinet to the kitchen side of the new wall (with a bookcase on the living room side).

Still to come: this mess. This is the washer-dryer cubby hole that needs a plumber’s soft touch before we can finish up. Right now it’s holding our leftover paint cans, the tile for the cubby floor, some drywall and Miscellaneous Crap We Have Not Cleaned Up.

(We have an appointment with a plumber Thursday.)

After: entryway

Kersten - January 28, 2008

We’re going to spread this out over a couple of days. So, here’s the “after” picture of the entryway:

I don’t have a good “before” picture for the entryway. We didn’t take one, evidently. Try to imagine this little alcove with nasty, forest-green carpet (so…take the color off the wall and put it on the floor), dingy paint, a nondescript light fixture, brown doors and the smell of cat.

The color on the walls is Benjamin Moore Aura “Peppermint Leaf” green from the BM store in Salt Lake. The tile is a basic gray slate from Contempo Tile in South Salt Lake, and we darkened the color to the near-black you see with a sealer/enhancer, which you can find at any tile place or home improvement store. The console table is from West Elm and is officially the last piece of furniture that we can purchase while we live here — we’re packed to the gills in this smaller place. The mirror is one that Tai bought several years ago for his condo that predates the original SLC202 (and thus also predates me).

The skis are…temporary. We have a ways to go before shoveling out that entryway closet, which is where we eventually hope to store the skis and ski boots. For the meantime, this makes us seem much more hard-core than we truly are. We wanted to make a splash with the first room that people see. That’s why we chose the bright green paint and the wall mirror. Now, if only it would stop snowing so that we stop tracking footprints all over the floor!

Haiku in honor of our Element

Kersten - January 16, 2008

Traditional (5-7-5)

You were the greatest
investment we didn’t know
we needed to make

We could not believe
Ikea cab’nets fit so
well, until we saw.

Modified

To the bamboo floor
you huffed, “eh, bring it on,”
but your tires rode low.

Free form

Your clean lines evoke minimalism,
but so many people shirk
from your boxiness.

You were cheap and easy —
the only cheap and easy thing
about this remodel.

Fireplace…

Chris - January 9, 2008

With some rare company due this weekend, I convinced myself to scramble and get fireplace (mostly) finished.  The previous owner of the house had some sponge-painting tendencies, and they had the misfortune of being applied to what was once a simple brick fireplace.  After a layer of thick and impenetrable stucco and a combination of yellow, pink and green painting, however, I decided it was best to just cover it up and start anew.  My first reaction was to install a tile surround directly over the stucco.  But, inspired by an image I had seen in a west elm catalogue, I ultimately decided on a different route.

01.living_dining_before
the fireplace pre-renovation

The concept for the fireplace surround is a sort of mosaic of 4×4 blocks cut at different depths and arranged in a random pattern to give some depth and interest to the facade of the fireplace, with solid (and un-sanded) cedar posts and beams to provide the structure.  Each of the 4×4 blocks is glued to hardiboard to provide support and a consistent vertical surface.  The surround actually sits about 2″ in front of the original fireplace, and can be easily removed if the style doesn’t suit the tastes of someone down the line.

13.fireplace_surround
the surround, pre-stain

After installing the surround and returning it to the wall using cedar 2×6s and cedar fence posts, I stained the entire unit.  I used Watco oil (providing more moisture to the wood than actual stain would) in a dark walnut color to reflect the color of the new wood floors.  Because the camera flash washes out some of the shadowing and grain detail, the pictures,don’t do a great deal of justice to the fireplace.  But I’m very pleased with the way it turned out.  The last piece to complete is a mantle, and I’m considering going with concrete to match the kitchen countertops.

14.fireplace_surround 
stained and waiting for a mantle

I’ll clearly never be burning any open fires in this fireplace - but I may one day get a gas insert for it (better for the air anyway).  At any rate, it’s a piece that brings some interest to the living room - and will surely provoke plenty of conversation…

Happy (belated) New Year

Kersten - January 7, 2008

I hope you’ve all gotten used to writing “2008″ on your correspondence by now! As you might have been able to tell from the dearth of posts recently, we had a crazy December. The first half of the month was spent rushing around trying to make the condo livable to make a December 15 move-in date.

We made it. We made it in time to cobble together a Christmas tree complete with trimmings and that fresh pine scent (a welcome change from the Pine-Sol we used this fall to get rid of the cat smell!). We thoroughly enjoyed seeing family and friends over the past two weeks, and we even scraped together enough chairs to host a few minor gatherings for out-of-towners who might not be around for a late-January/early-February house-warming shindig.

It feels good. Really, really good, in fact.

We still have a few things on our list, though, before we’re ready for an official unveil:

1. Finish the built-in bookcase in the living room
2. Face and finish the fireplace (it’s a gaping hole right now)
3. Get a long-awaited plumber to pull a drain up to our condo for a washer, install drywall and tile in the washer-dryer nook, paint, finish etc., and put in the washer and dryer.
4. Figure out some solution for a couple of spots where kitchen and bathroom cabinets do not quite meet the wall — we’re not crazy about the weird glimpses into the unpainted baseboard and support beams you get from these three gaps

Otherwise, there are the usual tidying-up tasks, including unearthing our office desk from the avalanche of books, old mail, old magazines, Christmas receipts, etc., that have taken over our second bedroom. We also probably need a little straightening up in the bedroom and kitchen, too. But again — it feels good to have a home again.

We’re already looking ahead for 2008, though. We worked hard to make this place nice, but we always intended it to be a temporary spot. We’re eying places to build, kicking around ideas, weighing the relative merits and demerits in the historic landmark districts around here (ARGH), and thinking about how to approach the year. In the next few weeks, we’ll fill you in on the bookcase process (we had to remove our front door to get the case into our living room…), the fireplace designs and the never-ending search for a plumber.

Happy New Year to all of you, and we’ll be sure to let RV readers see all the after pictures…as soon as I can persuade myself to clean.

It’s not quite an “after” picture…

Kersten - January 3, 2008

…but I hope it tides you over for a while.

iphone slide lasagna.jpg

Tai took this Christmas Eve on his iPhone while cooking us a delicious lasagna for the holiday. The kitchen is fully functional but still not fully pretty.

We are about 98 percent unpacked and done with the renovation, but the remaining tasks sort of stick out (as in, gaps in the wall, unfinished book shelf, no fireplace cover, etc.). So we’re waiting to do a full spate of “after” photos until we are more done.